Thursday, January 26, 2012

January strikes again

Just when I thought my January curse was about to be broken (every January for the past 7 years has been filled with a MAJOR drama, always involving a health crisis of someone I love) Wednesday, January 25th hit. Oddly enough, one year ago the same day I was discharged from the hospital from my hysterectomy/cancer removal.

I was on my way home from aerobics yesterday when I got a text from my friend, Susie (in red) saying she had survived her MRI. Susie has become one of my closest friends over the past two years. She and I talk daily, text multiple times a day and see each other at least once a week.

She had been having *attacks* for a few months and there was a suspicion of MS but because she is 14 weeks pregnant there was some discussion on how to proceed. Her doctor finally had her move forward to rule out anything scary.

I texted her back immediately because, quite honestly, I had completely forgotten she was going in for the test. She texted back saying things were not good. I texted back asking her to call because she was freaking me out. What unfolded the next few hours was mind blowing. To make a long story short, the MRI showed a VERY large tumor growing on the front/right side of her brain. She wasn't even a half hour out of her test before the doctor called and told her to come back to the hospital and check in so that she could get the ball rolling on what to do next.

I was able to go and spend some time with her so that her husband could go home and tell the kids (ages 6, 4, and 2) and get them ready for the night. It ended up being a really special time to spend with my dear friend. We laughed. We shared deeply. We prayed. We sat in shock and horror. The EXACT way we did last year when I was on the bed and she was in the chair. UNBELIEVABLE.

What happens next is still up in the air. More tests and conversations with surgeons. Please pray for my friend. Honestly, I'm quite shaken up over this. I love my friend. I need my friend. She is honestly like a sister to me. I would do anything to spare her from this. I so clearly remember the day I got my bad news. It's like the worst nightmare you've ever had, but it's real. I hate it for her. I hate it for her husband. I hate it for her kids. I hate it for me.

I know God is faithful. I know God is a healer. I know God is a comforter. Please pray for Susie. Please pray for her husband and her kids. Please pray for me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

You don't say?

I got back from Arizona a week ago today. It was a fabulous trip. Nearly perfect.

It was filled with lots of memories. New memories. Sight seeing. Laughs. Tears. Odd moments. And...


Yep! I've been told for years how Arizona is the perfect place to visit in the winter. Blue skies. Warm weather. Mountains. Perfection.

So, "Look out for that puddle!" was not something I was planning on hearing during my stay.

Nor was, "Hey, Bill, throw another log on that fire, will 'ya?" as we toured a famous/historic hotel one afternoon.

It rained every day I was there, with a high of 55 each day. Don't get me wrong, it still beat the high of 12 we were having back in Ohio, but the day I left to return home, temps got back up to 74. Naturally.
Another thing you don't think you'll over here while in the desert is, "Oh, yeah. I think it's a squirrel." Um no, ma'am. I'm from Ohio... we know squirrels. This is a bit more of a prairie dog type thing.
My one instruction from my daughter while I was gone was to get a picture with a cactus. Mission accomplished. (Side note, I was a bit freezing in this shot, but insisted on leaving my jacket in the car. I WAS on vacation in Arizona after all. )
What is it about those kind of cactus that make you stick your arms up in the air like an idiot?
And why is it growing out of my head?
We did a lot of seeing the sights. This was very cool. An old Mission. It was also proof that I did see a bit of blue sky while I was there.

I also had to laugh because I realized at some point on this trip that I really love doors. I must have taken about 15 pictures of different kind of doors.
My aunt and I had so much fun. We laughed until we cried many times. I can't tell you how amazing it was to be with her. To feel taken care of. To not be needed by little hands for five whole days. I felt so rested and relaxed when I left. I felt full. And why she has a cow skull gowing out of her head, I'm not sure. It must run in the family.
While I was there I also got to sneak away and grab coffee with my good friend, Katie. Katie used to live in Ohio and work with me at UD. She moved to Tucson years ago and life being what it's been, we have not been able to talk nearly as much as I'd like.
It was great fun to catch up with her and have her show me around the University of Arizona campus. I love being able to see some one's life in my mind's eye.
My trip was 100% perfect, rain and all. It was exactly what I needed and perfectly timed.
In fact, when I rolled in around dinner time last Tuesday night, I was ready to take on life and family. I was greeted at baggage claim by these three sweeties and my amazing husband who did a fabulous job holding down the fort for four nights. Time away was so good, but nothing feels as good as being greeted by people who love and missed you (on both sides of the trip.)
Thank you to all my family who made this trip happen.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Rearview mirror

One year ago today, right about now, I was recovering in a hospital room after a full hysterectomy and the removal of all visible cancer. It was official. Stage 3 Ovarian cancer. In some ways it was a relief. In one week my life was changed forever. And yet, there in the hospital room with all my lady parts gone, as well as the cancerous tumors, a new chapter was being written. It would be several weeks of recovery until I could begin *rough* chemo.

With a year under my belt in some ways I can't believe its been a year. Time flies. And in other ways it was the longest, seemingly never-ending year of my life.

I'm weird with anniversaries. Maybe not weird, maybe lots of people operate like me. Anniversaries mean a lot to me. For example, a week ago at this time I was on a plane to Arizona. Throughout today my mind has drifted several times to, "A week ago at this time, what was I doing?" Same goes for a year ago today. A day that changed my life.

I'm happy to report that one year later, I am *cancer free.* (That means there are no visible signs of active cancer cells in my body.) In another four years, I'll be considered cured, if there are no re-occurrences. It seems like a long, impossible road. But then again, so it seemed a year ago as well.

I've been working on remembering. And being thankful. And realizing how amazing it is to be sitting where I am today. With a full head of a hair. I went to Zumba this morning and kickboxing class yesterday. I have more energy then ever and certainly feel better than I did a year ago.

I don't know what tomorrow holds. I'm beginning to be okay with that. Slowly (very slowly) letting go of the need to control everything. Embracing today and not assuming tomorrow will suck. And if it does, knowing I'll be able to handle it. Because God good...because this past year has been the suckiest of all sucky- and I handled it. By the grace of God.

So, here is to one year out of a cancer diagnosis. Feeling good and living large. Thank YOU for journeying it with me.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Watch out for the cactus

I'm not sure I mentioned this, but Santa brought me be best present since an engagement ring 9 years ago. In about 2 hours I am headed with my bags packed to the airport. My sweet husband will drop me off, BY MYSELF, with a purse full of books and snacks that I don't have to lock myself in the bathroom to read or eat. I will get on a plane here in Dayton where the temperature is currently 16 degrees. It will take me to Dallas where I'll spend 2 hours eating food court food, buying magazines and people watching, with no little people to attend to. I will then hop on one last flight and de-board in sunny Tucson, AZ (where it will actually be dark since it will be 7 pm. Whatever.) My aunt and uncle will greet me and there MIGHT be tears.

Since Thanksgiving was so difficult, Steve and my Aunt Sherry hatched a plan to send me to Arizona for a 4 night stay in the bleak of winter to get some family time. It couldn't have been a bigger or better surprise! How neither one of them let the cat out of the bag before I opened my gift on Christmas Eve is beyond me.

I'm excited to go somewhere sunny. I'm looking forward to seeing the desert (I've never been.) But I'm mostly excited to be with family. An extension of my mom. Someone who loves me unconditionally and has known me forever. Someone I laugh with and enjoy. Someone who flew here for a week and took care of me and my kids during some of the roughest weeks of chemo. Another piece of the healing process as I grieve the loss of my parents. Time with family.

I'm going to miss my kids. Weird. Even yesterday they were pushing the limits. But as I watched their little back packs leave the van and enter school this morning, I was missing them already. All the more reason to go. So that I can come back. Refreshed. Energized. Happy to see them.

Thank you, Steve, for holding down the fort while I'm gone. I miss you already, too. I'll dodge a scorpion for you!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Two birds with one post

Because I'm desperately behind, I'm here to catch you up on ALL the important photos!

Someone turned into a *big boy* yesterday. And in my mom's honor we are continuing the tradition of birthday WEEK. (I have to say, I'm sure it was easier with an only child, birthday weeks are wearing me OUT.)

All of a sudden, Turner is into Sonic (the hedgehog). I think he's from some game. The weird thing is, we don't have that game. So I'm not sure how he got into it. What's even weirder is that Turner insists that it's name is Konic. We argue every time.
Now, we've all given up and just call it Konic.
Saturday, we had a small party for him. We invited just a few friends to a party at a new little gym in town. Jack 'N Jill's Hill did a great job hosting a party. The best part? I didn't lift a finger. A high school girl led everything and the place even provided the cupcakes. Money well spent, if I do say so myself. So now, all my babies are officially big kids. Sigh
And for other big news...
The American Girl Doll phenomena that has hit our house has finally worked in my favor.
O decided she wanted her hair cut like *Kit.*
Honestly, not a moment too soon. Her long hair was driving me crazy. She wouldn't brush it enough to keep it from not being stringy. The static made it stick out in 100 different directions. Simply put, it looked awful.
But thanks to Kit and her cute bob of a haircut, it didn't take much convincing.
She looks adorable and it eliminates at least one fight from our day.
I'll take it.
Thanks, American Girl Doll. You've made all my dreams come true.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Yes, Virginia, there was a Santa Claus

According to the word on the street, you have a year to send out thank you's after you get married. If that is true, I figure you get at least 3 weeks after Christmas to post the pictures, right?

And since this blog is part therapy/part scrap book, I'm going to go ahead and say it's not too late.

I wanted to document for all to see that I truly am a fun mom. Just ask me!
So fun that my kids nearly wet themselves by the prospects of being able to spend one measly night in their sleeping bags on our living room floor.
Knock yourselves out kids.

And that they did! Quinn was the first to give up the fight. Baxter a close second.

Olivia was next and Turner was able to be the lone man standing for about an extra 25 (seemingly endless) minutes.
It was actually fun.
Christmas morning was glorious.
Everyone was excited about what they got. Santa showed up and done good. They were excited to give gifts to each other that they had picked out at school. Our family is either really on the same page or really psycho... the boys picked out the same gift for each other and two of the three picked out the same thing for Steve.
Today is Turner's 4th birthday. Yesterday was his party. At the rate I'm going you should have the photos in April!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and other Well Wishes

I would have blogged over the holidays but I was too busy waiting for Santa, sleeping through the New Year ball drop and reading The Hunger Games to write. But the kids finally went back to school today and life is back to normal. Phew.

All in all, the two week break from school was really fun. We did lots of fun stuff (which did NOT include seeing Chipwrecked,the Chipmunks movie, and Happy Feet Two... the kids thought it was fun, me- notsomuch.) It also did NOT include a date for Steve and I. We literally tried 8 different people two weeks straight to babysit, but it was a no go. Oh well. It was not for a lack of trying.

It's a good thing my life's motto is "If you wait 'til the last minute, it only takes a minute" because all of a sudden Turner's 4th birthday as this weekend. And um, I've spent about a minute on any kind of planning. It's not because I don't love him. It's because we practiced poor planning and had a kid too close on the heels of major holidays. Oops. My guess is that as long as there are presents and cake, he's good.

All in all, I'm more than happy to ring in 2012! 2011 can kiss my ####. How's that for sentiment? I actually do have some deep thoughts on this new year. I feel like God has broken through some of my darkness and I do look forward to unpacking that here. I may also post pics of our under the tree slumber party, Olivia's new *Kit from American Girl Doll* hair cut and other fun stuff. The bleak mid-winter ought to provide plenty of opportunity for posts. Happy New Year~